Kidney patients jam KNH after dialysis kits doubled
Kidney patients have jammed Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) following the more than doubling of dialysis machines over the past year, creating new demand for the kit.
The national referral hospital reckons that about 60 patients use its dialysis machines daily, up from 35 last year.
The hospital’s renal unit provides dialysis services to more than 380 patients, up from 280 last year.
The upsurge comes in a period that has seen KNH increase its dialysis machines from 11 kits to 29 in July and 33 last week.
This means that kidney patients seeking treatment at the KNH may wait longer to get faster attention as their numbers continue to grow.
“When this happened (increase in dialysis machines), majority of patients in private hospitals left and flooded our dialysis unit here at KNH due to our favourable rates,” said Dr Anthony Were, head of renal unit at the hospital.
He added: “The rates here at KNH are good. So the more machines we have, the more people will keep coming here and this will eventually overwhelm our capacity. But we still need about eight more machines to adequately cater for our patients on dialysis.”
A dialysis session at KNH costs Sh5,000, but patients covered by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) pay only half of the amount.
In private hospitals, the charges range between Sh7,500 and Sh9,000.
Ministry of Health estimates that four million Kenyans suffer from kidney diseases and many progress to the last stage without being diagnosed.
Other public health facilities with dialysis machines are Coast General Hospital in Mombasa, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret and Kisii Level 5 Hospital.
Dr Were said that each year, the country registers about 8,000 new kidney patients in need of dialysis.
Out of this, only about 200 receive the service as the charges are still high for many people.
“Even after the NHIF waiver, many people still can’t afford the remaining Sh2,500 and end up dying yet this could have been avoided,” he said.
He called on the government to waive all charges as is the case in South Africa and Mauritius.
“It shouldn’t cost much since only a fraction of kidney patients require dialysis here.”
Government data show that about four million Kenyans have some form of kidney disease. Out of these, only about 8,000 require dialysis.
Dr Were said the prevalence of kidney disease is on the rise due to increase in lifestyle diseases, especially diabetes and hypertension, which destroy kidney cells.
Kidney disease manifests in five different stages. The last stage is the most severe and results in kidney failure. Patients usually require dialysis, which is a procedure that cleans the blood.
But the long-term solution lies in the patients getting kidney transplants, which is the most effective form of treatment.